The April Fool Archive:
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April Fool's Day, 1931
Four-Story Bus. (1931) A Berlin newspaper published a photo of a four-story bus. The newspaper subsequently received several thousand letters inquiring where the bus could be seen, how many people it could hold, how fast it could travel, how much it cost to build, and how it managed to go under bridges and trolley wires without being wrecked.
Kick Me Hard!. (1931) Actresses demonstrate a classic April Fool trick.
Graf Zeppelin in San Antonio. (1931) "While all San Antonio craned their necks skyward Wednesday, the huge Graf Zeppelin surprised residents by soaring over the city and mooring to the Smith-Young tower. Hugo Eckener offered free rides to all air-minded persons. Oh, well — April Fool! — Harvey Patteson Photo." [San Antonio Light - Apr 1, 1931]
Contagious Health. (1931) The Los Angeles Times ran a front-page "exclusive" reporting that Hamburg scientist Dr. Eugene Lirpa had discovered good health to be caused by a bacteria, "Bacillus sanitatis." Sick people were lacking this "germ of health," but they could be cured simply by breathing in the same air as healthy people.
This story appears to be the only time the LA Times ever perpetrated an April Fool hoax.
Looking for Charlie Chaplin. (1931) A large crowd and squads of police gathered in Genoa, Italy to greet the arrival of the Riviera train, having been lured there by a report published in numerous newspapers that Charlie Chaplin had recently left Nice and would be arriving that day in Genoa.
A movie manager admitted to having planted the false story, in the hope of attracting attention to one of Chaplin's films.
Too Wise. (1931)
Al Capone for Mayor. (1931) The Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA) distributed a number of humorous fake stories to its subscribers, including the report that Al Capone was running for mayor of Chicago as a dry candidate:
"Adopting the slogan, 'Dry Up Chicago,' Al (Cornpone) Capone, prominent proprietor of a leading ice cream emporium here, entered the Windy City's fight for mayor here today with rare good spirits. Given to ironic speech, the new candidate is said to be planning to take his opponents for a ride when the campaign opens. 'You have only to consider my record,' he told his followers in a stadium rally, 'to judge my fitness for the chair, er — the mayor's chair.'"
Giant Penguin in Berlin. (1931) A German newspaper ran a "news photo" of a giant five-foot-high penguin kissing a man with its long beak. The accompanying story explained that the penguin had recently been brought to Berlin and was being kept in a private zoo. The story created a minor sensation. Pet store owners, animal trainers, and naturalists all received numerous calls from people wishing to see the giant penguin.
Strict Reno Divorce Law. (1931) April fool story distributed by NEA to its subscribers:
"A strict blue law regime went into effect throughout the state today with passage of the new divorce laws which require 20 years residence prior to application for divorce. Reno business men agreed that $5,000,000 a year was nothing as compared to a peaceful and quiet atmosphere. Aspiring divorcees will just have to wait until 1951, that's all."